Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscar Predictions: The Technical Awards

Welcome once again to A Mighty Fine Blog's Oscar prediction special! Much like the ceremony itself, it promises to be overlong, sporadically interesting and ultimately futile. On the plus side, there will be no interpretative dance sequences or mawkish tributes to people you've never heard of, and it won't take you five hours to read. (Though it may take me that fucking long to write.)

As with last year, I will split the predictions into two posts; one for the Technical Awards and one for the Main Awards. This is intended to make them easier to digest, so that you, the reader, won't have to read through one mammoth post, but it also means that if you don't care about Best Cinematography you can just look at the other post and see who is going to win the awards that most people care about.

So, unfunny introduction down, let's delve into the Academy Awards, 2011, and try to make some sense of them.

Best Short Film, Live Action
The Confession (2010/IV): Tanel Toom
The Crush (2010): Michael Creagh
God of Love (2010): Luke Matheny
Na Wewe (2010): Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 (2009): Ian Barnes, Samantha Waite

As with every year, I haven't seen any of these so I will have to guess based on the most spurious of reasons. Wish 143, about a young boy dying of cancer whose last wish is to lose his virginity, was written by a man who actually beat cancer as a teenager, which is the sort of story that Oscar would be foolish to ignore. Also, he's a friend of my friend Rachel, so he has to get my nod.

Prediction: Wish 143

Best Short Film, Live Action
Day & Night (2010): Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo (2009) (TV): Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
Let's Pollute (2011): Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing (2010): Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, a Journey Diary (2010): Bastien Dubois

In stark contrast to their domination in the Best Animated Feature category, which I fully expect to continue this year, Pixar's track record in this category has been spotty at best. Still, if the hilarious, clever and innovative Day & Night doesn't win, I will personally beat every member of the Academy to death. (Legal disclaimer: I will probably not do that.)

Prediction: Day & Night

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Killing in the Name (2010): Jed Rothstein
Poster Girl (2010): Sara Nesson, Mitchell Block
Strangers No More (2010): Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up (2010): Jennifer Redfearn, Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Qiugang (2010): Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon

Having read up on these, they all sound pretty intriguing but I'll go for Killing In The Name for its discussion of terrorists acts. Also, because I love that Rage Against The Machine song.

Prediction: Killing In The Name

Best Documentary, Features
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz
GasLand (2010): Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic
Inside Job (2010): Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Restrepo (2010): Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Waste Land (2010): Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley

For me, this category comes down to the "you-are-there" immediacy of Restrepo, a truly gripping and harrowing documentary about a year in the lives of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, and the crowd-pleasing brilliance of Exit Through The Gift Shop. Though I think that Exit Through The Gift Shop is the better film, Banksy's antics might make him less of a favourite with the Academy, and Restrepo is ultimately a more powerful work. It's a tough call.

Prediction: Hmm, er, Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Achievement In Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter (2010): Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell
Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin
Iron Man 2 (2010): Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick

Fuck Alice In Wonderland! Inception seems like the one with the most critical support and the most genuinely astonishing effects (see: the Corridor fight) and a win in this category could be seen as a way to make up for the fact that it isn't going to win any of the major awards.

Prediction: Inception

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Inception (2010): Richard King
Toy Story 3 (2010): Tom Myers, Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy (2010): Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey
Unstoppable (2010): Mark P. Stoeckinger

Back in 2008, whilst There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men battled for dominance in the major categories, The Bourne Ultimatum quietly walked away with three Oscars for its technical accomplishments (specifically Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Editing) and I think that much the same will happen this year. The Social Network and The King's Speech will carve up most of the major categories, but Inception will get a decent haul of technical awards.

Prediction: Inception

Best Achievement In Sound Mixing

Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech (2010): Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley
Salt (2010): Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell
The Social Network (2010): Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland

Again, I think Inception has this one in the bag because Sound Editing and Mixing go hand in hand and "Best" can often be synonymous with "Most", and Inception definitely had the most sound mixing out of these category.

Prediction: Inception

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman, , Dido("If I Rise")
Country Strong (2010): Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges("Coming Home")
Tangled (2010/I): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater("I See the Light")
Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman("We Belong Together")

Apparently there is a lot of support for "If I Rise" (I guess a lot of people own both the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack and No Angel) and it seems like the strongest contender out of the lot. Both Newman and Menken are veterans who have already won, whilst Coming Home is a pretty weak facsimile of last year's winner, "The Weary Kind".

Prediction: 127 Hours - A.R. Rahman and Dido

Best Achievement in Makeup
Barney's Version (2010): Adrien Morot
The Way Back (2010): Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey

I'm not really sure what aspect of The Way Back's make-up was so spectacular that it warranted a nomination, and The Wolfman didn't exactly set the world alight - and its effects were often cited as a weakness - so I think that Barney's Version will repeat its win at the Golden Globes.

Prediction: Barney's Version

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (2009): Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech (2010): Jenny Beavan
The Tempest (2010/II): Sandy Powell
True Grit (2010): Mary Zophres

Fuck Alice In Wonderland! Sorry, kind of a nervous tic I seem to have developed. This one seems to be between the sumptuous costumes of I Am Love and Sandy Powell's ostentatious work on The Tempest. Powell is a veteran who has won three Oscars from eight previous nominations (most recently winning for The Young Victoria last year) and I think that might work against her here if people think that she has already been appreciated enough. I'm going to plump for I Am Love.

Prediction: I Am Love

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Inception (2010): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat
The King's Speech (2010): Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit (2010): Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Fuck Alice In Wonderland! Wow, that is really getting to be a problem. I'm going to give this one to The King's Speech since it is a very well-staged film that stands out from the others by how subtle and calm it is. The rest of the nominees are kind of broad and bold in comparison.

Prediction: The King's Speech

Best Achievement in Editing

127 Hours (2010): Jon Harris
Black Swan (2010): Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter (2010): Pamela Martin
The King's Speech (2010): Tariq Anwar
The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

In many ways, this award could be the litmus test of how the night will proceed with regard to the major awards. Best Editing and Director tend to be linked in much the same way that their respective disciplines are, so a win here could be an early sign of which will win Best Director, and possibly Best Picture as well. I personally think that David Fincher is a dead cert for Best Director, not just for his work on The Social Network but the body of work he has created over the years, and I think that The Social Network, which is a seamless and smooth flowing film, will take Editing too.

Prediction: The Social Network

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Inception (2010): Wally Pfister
The King's Speech (2010): Danny Cohen
The Social Network (2010): Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins

A lot of very strong contenders here since all five nominees had strong, distinct visual palettes and camerawork, but I think that it will probably go to Roger Deakins for his work on True Grit. Deakins is a nine-time nominee who has never won, despite his brilliant work on films like Fargo, Kundun and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (a personal favourite of mine). It could be seen as a legacy award for everything he has done before, but his work on True Grit is as wonderful as anything he has done and it would be thoroughly deserved. (Unlike, say, Kate Winslet winning for The Reader or Scorsese winning for The Departed.)

Prediction: True Grit

Okay, that's all of the Technical Awards done. Check back tomorrow for my predictions of the Major awards.